To Leave or Not to Leave

Home is my personal “land of the fairies,” where I lose track of time, and even of what

Needs a few cats...

Needs a few cats…

day it is. I’ll often wake up and think, “I’m not sure whether it’s Saturday or Sunday. How lovely! But I still have 147 pages of revisions to do for Tremaine and Nita, and when did I become so addicted to the verb ‘to sport?’ I should do a global search. Lordy, I hope it’s Saturday, because the manuscript is due Monday…”

Happy thoughts. I can hear Winnie the Pooh singing, “Rum Tum Tiddle Dum, Rum Tum Tiddle Deeeee” as I pother around in my writing world.

Winnie-the-Pooh-HumBut I’ve learned that I need to get out, to drop in on my readers via social media, to write this blog, to occasionally meet a real, live, human friend in person for a bowl of soup, or a hot chocolate. In the land of Today is Tuesday, I am refueled in a way that home, with all its wonders, can’t do for me.

grow tubbyI’ve also learned that I need to move, physically, to GET OUT OF THE CHAIR, though everything in me rebels at the very notion. I’m happy when I sit in my writing chair, rum-tum-tiddle-dumming away. Happy, do you hear me? I’m also significantly overweight, and at risk for early Alzheimers.

So I get out of the chair, even if it’s only to toddle for a bit at the treadmill desk. I hate every minute of that exercise, but I will hate more being unable to recall my daughter’s name.

day without a friendAnother lesson that I know, though I must relearn it often, is that I have a tendency to hang on too long to relationships that aren’t working. I suspect the day job falls into this category–twenty years of child abuse law is enough. I’ve kept other jobs too long, kept relationships too long, and kept congregational affiliations for too long. “Too long,” means I’m spending way too much of myself on a situation that’s not giving enough, and I’m the only person to whom this imbalance matters.

Me, at Glencoe in Scotland, proving that I do Get Out occasionally...

Me, at Glencoe in Scotland, proving that I do Get Out occasionally…

I’m getting better about this, though, and what has helped is an uncomfortable insight: I want to be loved tenaciously. I want to be worthy of other people’s committed devotion, even when I’m lost in the land of Rum Tum Tiddle Dum, even when I’m obsessing over the verb ‘to sport,’ as if that really matters. I want what I’m giving away.

In my reluctance to cut loose what’s not working, I have my priorities inside out. I think it was Maya Angelou who said, “weak people give up and stay, strong people give up and move on.” I need to move on more readily than I do, not because I’m strong, but because that’s the way to be the most honorable in my regard for myself.

What lessons or decision points seem to circle your life? Do the upcoming holidays present any quizzes or tests that you intend to face differently this year? To one commenter, I’ll send a $50 Amex gift card.

Baby Grace

training wheels oneSomewhere along the way, I came across the notion that learning proceeds in four stages.

First, you know very little, but you’re also unaware of the extent of your ignorance. Like a kid with a new toy, your rocket around, delighting in the two or three facts or abilities you’ve mastered. I played the C scale by the hour when I started piano lessons–it was magic to me, and I was only dimly aware that dozens of other scales (if you count all the different minor scales) were yet to be mastered.

Second, you become aware of those other scales, of the distance between that C scale and the Emperor Concerto, and that distance training wheels twomatters. Your reckless glee fades to something more humble, maybe even to a sense of failure, because you’re not as a good as you thought you were.

Third, if you don’t quit, you stagger beneath the realization that you don’t know jack, and you may never know jack. Your ignorance far outpaces your learning, and probably always will. This phase is where we decide to either double down and learn the daylights out of a subject, or we walk away, appreciative and somewhat skilled, but far short of passionate. In this phase, we’re often more competent than we perceive, but we can training wheels threelack confidence.

Fourth, your persistence and passion pay off. You’re extremely competent, and you know it. You’re so competent, everybody else pretty much knows it too, and probably pays you to exercise your skill or talent.

As a child welfare attorney, I’ve paid my dues. I’m no genius, but I know my craft. As a writer, I feel I’m hovering between stages two and three–I know some good stuff and I’m working hard, but I have a long way to go. As a mom, I’m not a novice, but does anybody ever master parenting?

With the release of Trenton: Lord of Loss, I’m a self-published writer, firmly back in stage training wheels fourone. I know very, very little, but my glee is boundless: Look Ma, no publishing house! (Though I’m still working with a traditional house on other projects and don’t foresee that relationship ending.)

Intellectually, I know I’ll hit bumps as a self-published author, maybe some really big, mean bumps. I’ll probably fall off my bike a time or two, but in my heart, the sheer joy of embarking on a new journey, of packing  my PBJ, clean socks, a canteen and a book and heading out the door is delightful. It has been decades since I’ve started a new adventure, and given myself permission to succeed, fail, or both, so long as I get moving in pursuit of a dream.

Freestyler Emma McFerran

Freestyler Emma McFerran

This is… what’s the word? It’s on the tip of my…. this is FUN!

If money were not an issue, if health were not an issue, if you could march out in pursuit of a dream, what would it be? And if one of your dreams is posting a blog on this site, then please email me. I’ll be traveling a lot in the next few months, and an occasional guest post would be a big help.

To one commenter, I’ll send a $50 Amazon gift card.


Oh, Happy Day!

darius_4502As most of you probably know, Romance Writers of America announced the finalists for the 2013 RITA awards, and Darius: Lord of Pleasures was among those selected in the historical category. (If you’d like to see all of the finalists, they’re here.) The historical category finalist list reads like a cross between my keeper shelf and my TBR pile, so I am very pleased to be in this company.

The winners are announced at RWA’s National Conference in July, and it’s an exciting, tense, fun evening for the finalists. The author, accompanied by the book’s editor, goes up to the microphone in a room full of 2000+ peers and industry professionals. A few minutes are allotted for the author’s comments, and a very pretty metal statuette is presented to each winner. Much applause, a few tears, a few drinks and many congratulations.

RITABut wait a minute. The editor is there, but where is the publisher, the person who ultimately made the decision acquire that book rather any one of thousands of others? Where’s the copy editor, who caught more typos and wordos than Carter has liver pills, and where’s the proofreader who caught her fair share as well? Where’s the production editor, who kept the manuscript moving through an entire chocolate factory of transformations, from story to shelved book?

And let’s not forget about the Art Department, who came up with an eye-catching cover; book making, who somehow changed bytes into books; the sales folks who talked that book into retail outlets; the publicist, who led the cheers for the book as if her name were on the cover; the foreign sales agent who sold the book in Japan among other places; the formatters who have to tweak the file so it loads smoothly onto at least a half dozen different retail ebook platforms…. the booksellers, the bloggers and reviewers, the admin staff holding the universe together, the web geniuses who present the book so beautifully on the website…

giantsDarius might be my story, but it’s not my book. It’s our book–all of us who put it together, read it, talked about it, boosted it on its way to this recognition. So, thanks to you, thanks to my book team, thanks to RWA. Thanks, thanks, thanks.

Newton’s quote comes to mind, though writing a romance novel is by no means an accomplishment comparable to his contributions to science: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

My story; our book. Who are your giants? The guy who keeps your car running? Your day care mom? Your kid’s counselor? Your sister-in-law? To five commenters, I’ll send signed copies of Darius: Lord of Pleasures.


The Nature (and Nurture) of a Writer

I’m working on a how-to-write book in my spare time, and the project has me thinking about whether writers are made or born. I believe such a thing as natural talent exists. Malcolm Gladwell tells us, convincingly, that expertise takes 10,000 hours of practice to develop, but the five-year-old Mozart hadn’t spent 10,000 at the keyboard before he started to compose.

young mozartAnd yet, Mozart was born into a musical family; Picasso into an artistic family. I do not liken my abilities to either of those fellows, but what about my family?

Not a writer to be found, (nor, prior to my generation, a lawyer for that matter).

And yet, I attribute much of my writing ability to my family, for the following reasons:

I am the sixth out of seven children, and that right there—birth order—meant I was born into a verbally enriched environment. I wasn’t dropped off at day care to play toys all day with my toddling peers (and I consider myself poorly socialized, maybe as a result), but I had siblings 13 (twins), 10, 4, and 2 years older than I at birth, also a college professor Dad and registered nurse Mom.

girl writingMy parents lived through the Depression, and our family was large. Hence, I was raised without an interest in displaying fancy material possessions, and with an abiding belief that education is a delight and a moral imperative. The more you understand about this life, the better you’re positioned to tackle the problems it presents to you and your society.

Another function of my upbringing is that I had to figure a lot of stuff out for myself. My parents simply had no time or energy for making sure I grasped the fundamentals of a properly tied shoe, or the alphabet. My siblings filled in some of the gaps—they thought it uproariously funny that L-M-N-O was one letter in my alphabet—but reading filled in other gaps.  

Last ChildAnd when TV is regarded as the minion of pervasive sloth, imagination has room to grow, and good written stories are treasured.

My brain is not particularly wired for words, at least if the tests and diagnostics are right, and maybe that’s where Mr. Gladwell’s 10,000 hours come in. I’m a predominantly visual/spatial thinker who values relationships (and I’m a rolling wreck when it comes to repetitive structure for its own sake). Because of my early circumstances, I was given the opportunity to figure out, almost at birth, that words were the best way for me to connect with and make sense of my environment, to get my needs met, to be heard and understood.

So I learned to wrangle words and to love wrangling words. At this point, in pursuit of authordom, I’ve probably written 4 million of them, and that doesn’t count decades of keeping a diary, and reading voraciously.

girl stallion by starlightSome of what I gleaned from my childhood was hard—I was lonely a lot, I mistrust authority almost reflexively, as a younger woman I relied too much on my brain—but a lot was wonderful. I wouldn’t trade the package for the world.

What strengths did your upbringing forge in you?  To three commenters, I’ll send a $25 Amazon gift card.

Ten Things to Love About Traveling in Scotland….

Time to ‘fess up: For the past two weeks, I’ve been traveling in Scotland. In deference to everybody who wasn’t with me, I ought to say the weather was awful, the scenery dreary, and not a kilt to be seen. Alas, the weather was wonderful, the sights were marvelous, and the kilts very much in evidence.

At Glencoe, enduring the awful weather and the dreary scenery...

At Glencoe, enduring the awful weather and the dreary scenery…

I had the time of my life, and I’m indebted to a reader–waves at Carol who plays the harps–for suggesting I sign up for a Beltane Tours trip around Scotland. The tours are hosted by Jim and Susie Malcolm, a Scottish couple of traditional music persuasion. I’m not what I’d call enthusiastic about traditional music (folk music), but it’s accessible stuff (think Peter, Paul and Mary), so it can be enjoyed by anybody–including me.

We sang our way around Scotland, had a wee dram now and then, listened to terrific live performances, and saw more sights than ought to fit into any two weeks. Some highlights:

1) Getting a hug VERY FIRST THING from Jim, before he even knew who I was (or whether I was for sure with the tour?).

Scottish Tablet (and yes, it comes in whiskey flavor)

Scottish Tablet (and yes, it comes in whiskey flavor)

2) VERY SECOND THING having a lunch of sticky toffee pudding and breakfast whiskey. What a brilliant concept–breakfast whiskey.

3) Hearing Susie sing “Loch Necessarily So” as we toodled along Loch Ness.

4) Scenery out every window such as you usually only see on calendars. EVERY window.

5) Tablet. This is like fudge dipped in frosting with an extra helping of sugar. If those old boys who fought for independence at Culloden had had tablet in their rations, the Government troops would never have prevailed.

6) Learning about whiskey. Jim is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic ambassador for this most famous Scottish export, and you betcha the heroes in my books will appreciate the education I got. For me, the wee dram of the day was, of course, purely an exercise in selfless devotion to literary accuracy. (Whiskey goes well with tablet, though–I’ll admit that much.)

themusicroom7) The other people on the tour were uniformly good company. Not a whiner in the bunch–maybe the whiskey helped with morale? Maybe singing and dancing in the music room at Murthly Castle and being piped home by the laird of the castle helped?

8) Learning Scottish history. The tale is not happy, but it is ultimately triumphant. Scotland today is poised to soar. The country has access to tremendous stores of North Sea oil, and yet has Tossing the Caberchosen to make 100 percent reliance on renewable energy sources its goal. Scotland has huge stores of fresh water, one third of Europe’s wind, and–I’m convinced–a great share of its common sense.

9) Watching the town of Braemar literally close up shop to see the Queen drive by. We went to the Royal Highland Games, where the big guys in kilts toss the telephone poles around. Her Royal Majesty, Prince Phillip, and Prince Charles also dropped in. The shopkeepers all slapped a “back in five minutes” on their doors, left their wares completely unattended (on the sidewalks, even), and waved at the Sovereign as she tooled past. Can you imagine your main street being THAT safe?

Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart10) Knowing that many seeds were planted in my imagination. These seeds will germinate and blossom for years to come. Right now, my first priority is figuring out how to get Jim’s description of a Highland charge–“running hairy-ballocks naked down the hill”–into some piece of dialogue….

I’ll be posting more about this trip, I’m sure. Have you ever had a dream vacation? What would your dream vacation be? C’mon–your DREAM vacation. To one commenter, I’ll send some Scottish tablet.



Georgia on My Calendar

I’ve just come from the 2013 gathering of the Romance Writers of America, one of several professional conferences I attend each year. On general principles, the notion of spending a week in a mid-city hotel, eating conference food, wearing conference shoes, and dealing with hordes of people ought not to appeal to me, but I’m already looking forward to next year’s gathering.

marriott atriumHow can that be? My tolerance for noise is… well, I don’t have any, and this was an atrium hotel that looked to be at least 30 stories high. The bar was in one of the open-plan lobbies, and we ladies got loud, then louder still. My tolerance for gratuitous displays of emotion isn’t much greater, and yet, BOTH luncheon speakers moved us to tears, and that was just fine.

marriott lobbyWhat’s different about this gathering? Yes, it’s a professional conference. People are pitching their books, meeting with potential agents and editors, negotiating deals, scarfing up workshop wisdom, and making connections with readers, and yet, it has the feel of a family reunion. I know of one pair of writers who’ve been critique partners for two years, and they met for the first time last week in Atlanta. That’s not unusual.

I arranged to meet a Facebook writing friend for breakfast, she brought her roommate, and we might well stay in touch on social media, get together at a subsequent conference, trade beta reads, or otherwise build on that small but enjoyable interaction.

Some of the appeal of the conference, though, has to do with the nature of writers. Whether we’re introverts or extroverts, we’re people who notice what happens in life. We notice setting, and we notice subtext–what’s not being said, what’s emotionally driving somebody but never acknowledged. In other words, we’re probably on the more perceptive end of the scale. At a gathering of writers, you can have all the space you need, but you won’t have to make much of an effort to connect, if connecting is what you want to do.

This group is also–generalization alert–mostly female, as in 99 percent female, at least. Certain dynamics that might afflict other gatherings are largely absent from this one.

And some of the credit has to go to RWA itself. I once heard Julia Quinn say, “You will never hurt your career by helping another author.” This might be engraved over the figurative door to the RWA office, because it represents Holy Writ to most romance authors. If you can do another author a good turn, it is your privilege to oblige. This ethic tartan_450-204x335of professional collaboration might well be part of the reason romance is a $1.37 billion industry, and growing.

So I had a lovely week, despite being a warp nine, noise-intolerant, tactile-avoidant, introvert. I was with the right kind of people, focused on the right kind of agenda.

What sort of group do you enjoy meeting with? Does the task at hand make a difference? The setting? The membership?

To one commenter, I’ll send an audio version of “Once Upon a Tartan.”


My Favorite King

I’m watching an early (1969) Masterpiece Theatre production titled, “The First Churchills,” which is a history of the First Duke of Marlborogh and his lady wife. The couple’s letters, diaries, and other preserved papers served as the basis of the series, which begins during the reign of Charles II.

first churchillsA small digression here. Charles II was spirited out of England at the age of 21 (with a price on his head) and given sanctuary by his cousin Louis at the French court (among other places), while his poor papa, Charles I, became the only English monarch to die at the hands of his people. Oliver Cromwell became de facto dictator of England for about nine years, but upon Cromwell’s death, Charles was invited to resume the throne.

Charles II

Charles II

After nine years of Puritanism and piety at swordpoint, a king who would grant amnesty to many who’d opposed him and his father, who enjoyed horse races, theater. tennis, and many of the pastimes Puritans had outlawed, was a welcome change of pace. He had his detractors, of course, Britain still being the grip of much religious intolerance, and Charles advocating for tolerance, but for all that, he is remembered as, “The Merry Monarch.”

John Wilmot, Earl of Richmond, and friend to the king, came up with the following couplet:

We have a pretty witty king, And whose word no man relies on,
He never said a foolish thing, And never did a wise one”[27]

to which Charles supposedly said “that’s true, for my words are my own, but my actions are those of my ministers”.

Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell

Charles was witty, tolerant, lusty (he acknowledged twelve bastards, nearly all of them inheriting titles or marrying titles), and able to laugh at himself and at court politics. He understood that gallantry, beauty, wit, poetry, recreation, and socializing are necessary if life isn’t to be unendurable. (And if Prince William takes the throne, he’ll be the first British monarch descended from Charles II, though the connection is matrilineal).

I like this guy. I like a reminder that music and theatre are fun, that nobody is getting out of this gig alive, that we need to get along with each other lest we all end up dead and deadly dull. I’m not so keen on a dozen illegitimate children, but Charles acknowledged every one, remained on good terms with his ladies, and his last thoughts were apparently of concern for his mistresses. “Let not poor Nellie starve” he begged his brother, referring to the actress, Nell Gwynn.

William kissing kateI write historical romance in part because I find history delightfully interesting. Charles also coped with the last devastating London plague, the Great Fire, various wars, and–I think this is important, too–was the first monarch to grant licenses to theaters that allowed women’s roles to be played by women, not boys. Imagine basing a novel on any one of those aspects of Charles’s reign….

What historical figure would you like to meet, to have for a friend? Why?

To one commenter, I’ll send an audio copy of “The Bridegroom Wore Plaid.”

Grace Management 101

RTI spent last week at the Romantic Times conference, a wonderful get together for authors, readers, editors, agents, cover models, and other romance industry professionals hosted by Romantic Times magazine. I got to spend some time with Mary Balogh, met Courtney Milan, hung out with some of the other wonderful ladies who write for my publisher, and learned about a drink called a Dark and Stormy from a swain of most charming and handsome attributes.

Mary Balogh

Mary Balogh

I also spent time with some readers, and that’s always a treat. Writing can be a lonely, lonely business, and it’s easy to focus on the one-star reviews, looming deadlines, and market uncertainties. Time with the readers restoreth the soul, and helps keeps the priorities where they ought to be.

Something else that restoreth the soul: Having whole milk in my mini-fridge to dump in my decaf tea. Little Ghiradelli dark chocolate squares to start and end the day with, comfortable shoes, plenty of water, a quiet room to go to when the noise becomes overpowering.

dark chocolateI used to dread these conferences, but I’ve found that by paying attention to small comforts, my endurance is significantly fortified, and instead of managing my anxieties and discontents, I can instead focus on the positives–like meeting readers, meeting one of my idols, and hanging out with writing buddies.

And one of those comforts will always be a good book on my nightstand.

What small comforts fortify you against life’s challenges? To one commenter, I’ll send a $15 Amazon gift card.




How my horse taught me to write…

When I paid attention, I learned a lot from my horse. My most recent Personal Steed was a 17.1 hand Hanoverian (doing business as an Oldenburg) gelding whom I referred to as Boy Genius. When he had adequate years, his moniker morphed into Wonder Pony, and several other appellations, depending on the quality of our ability to communicate.

Beloved Offspring on Beloved Andy

I am not by nature an athlete. My idea of a good day is to sit for at least six hours in front of the computer, spewing make believe and swilling decaf tea, then having a nice lie down with my latest potential keeper (book, that is) for a few hours, then a few more hours of composing at the computer. I will feed my beasts at the beginning and the end of the day, which entails heaving a few hay bales, maybe lugging a 50-pound sack of pony chow from the top to the bottom of the barn, and chucking out some 5-gallon buckets of water, but God forbid I should break a sweat.

As much as I loved my horse and enjoyed riding, there were many days when my energy for the task was not great. Then too, there were windy days, when the arena might creak and groan, provoking my dearest steed to occasional lapses of dignity. Or sometimes it might be stinkin’ hot, or stinkin’ cold. Stinkin’ rainy was only half an excuse because I rode in an indoor arena, but it would do in a pinch.

Some days, I would get to the barn, tack up my horse (or the grooms, sly boots, would tack him up for me), and lead him into the arena, and still, the motivation to ride would not well up in my soul. “I’ll just ride him at the walk,” I’d say. I’d swing aboard, pat my pony, and off he would saunter. He has a lovely walk, does Wonder Pony. He walks like a gunslinger, and if you make allowances for his species, the guy is certainly tall, dark and handsome.

We’d walk this-a-way, and that-a-way, and pretty soon, we’d have walked just about every way you can in a modest indoor, all the while having a nice visit with my instructor about Life In General, or maybe a little about how the horse feels to me as we walk. What the hell, I would say to my pony after about ten minutes, let’s just loosen up a little at the trot. But the horse has a pretty big trot, and as is the case with some warmbloods, he loosens up better at the canter.

So what the other hell, I’d cue him into a nice, relaxed canter, which is kinda fun. But you can’t canter just one way, so we’d canter around the other direction and maybe try a flying change across the middle, and before long, I’m trying to put the horse together in a working trot, working on suppleness, moving him off my leg (this is a term of art), and generally engaged in the meat of a worthwhile riding lesson.

Todd Bryan, most wonderful trainer

My instructor (also tall, dark and handsome, but not the same species as the horse) probably pulled my horse aside first thing in the day, and worked out this little conspiracy, but eventually, when I’d say, “I think I’ll just sit on him at the walk,” it was all both of them could do not to laugh at my prevarications outright.

Let them laugh. They are my prevarications, and they serve me well. When I’m not enthusiastic about taking a walk (which is 90 percent of the time) I’ll tell myself, “I’ll just go a half mile to the neighbor’s mail box). This is generally the start of a two-mile walk. When it comes to housework, I tell myself, “Just vacuum the bedroom. You can worry about the downstairs later.” And sometimes, I do, and sometimes, as long as I have the darnedd thing out…

When it comes to my writing, prevaricating is very handy. “I’ll just read over what I wrote yesterday….” “I’ll just buff the last scene, add a little dialogue…” “I’ll just get out one scene, then have a cup of tea….” If you ride the right horse, if you’re patient with yourself, and you don’t judge yourself for nibbling your way through life’s challenges, you too can complete twenty-five manuscripts without ever once pressuring yourself  to finish a single book.

 Have you ever walked your way to a significant accomplishment? Tried just one date, signed up for a single course… tell us about it. To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of “Lady Eve’s Indiscretion,” which is also a story about taking small steps toward a big goal.


A Very Good Two Years

My daughter called me up a few years ago, in the middle of one of those weeks when the spare went flat, the rent check bounced, and the professor sprang a pop quiz on the one assignment she had forgotten to read.

“Why doesn’t anybody tell you being a grown up is HARD?” she wailed, and my heart went out to her. As a child, adulthood looms as a golden land free of boiled asparagus, a place where we can stay up late every night, and never have to get on another school bus again. Time passes, and we see that staying up late isn’t all we dreamed it could be.

Being a published author is a little like growing up. Two years ago this month, my first book hit the shelves—a dream come true! And yet… I’ve learned a few things too, not all of them happy. Some of my lessons learned:

1)      Romance readers are among the kindest, most together people on the planet, and most romance authors are cut from the same cloth. We have our priorities straight, and for the most part, we treat each other decently. Yes, there are a few people, some of them reviewers, who must believe being snarky and narcissistic is some sort of contribution to the marketplace of ideas, but those people are by far in the minority, and they are not unique to the publishing industry.

2)      Luck has a lot to do with whether a writer succeeds commercially, the same as it affects the careers of doctors, ditch diggers, teachers, and everybody else trying to earn a living. One author’s book is chosen for some award, another’s gets into the hands of a mean reviewer on a mean day. When I realized that luck is not the exclusive plague of the fiction writer, writing became no more risky than lawyering, parenting or riding horses—all of which I’ve done with some success.

3)      Writing professionally is hard, not only because there are deadlines, reviews, and financial anxieties, but also because the manuscript I write becomes the property of an organization intent on maximizing the book’s commercial appeal, though how that’s done is still largely a mystery. In some ways, as an author, I have the least say over how the finished product is polished and packaged. In any survey of self-published authors, they do not cite increased revenue as their primary reason for turning away from traditional publishing, they cite an unwillingness to surrender artistic control as the reason they abandon the traditional publishing model. That’s significant.

4)      The final lesson learned is probably the most important: I love to write romance. I wasn’t sure I would, once the royalty checks, deadlines, and sales figures started showing up, but I do, I do, I do love to write. This is a Big Gift, because having a passion in this life is an inoculation against all manner of woes and miseries that a mere paycheck cannot cure.

I hope twenty years from now, I’m still writing romances, and still feeling mighty, mighty grateful to have that privilege.

What’s your passion? Is it the same one you had twenty years ago? Two years ago? To one commenter below, I’ll send a signed copy of “The Bridegroom Wore Plaid.”